The snow reports for the next few weeks are a bit daunting in Southern Oregon. Although most people don’t give too much thought to their tires. Tires are designed to take a beating, engineered to carry the weight of a heavy vehicle and endure the strains of country roads and highway speeds. If they’re doing their job, the odds are good they won’t be grabbing your attention. But every winter the humble tire becomes a main topic of automotive conversation.
When your car rolled out of the factory, it was likely equipped with all-season tires. While these jack-of-all-trades tires can handle most conditions you’ll encounter over the course of a year, their name is somewhat misleading: they may be perfect for all seasons in some places, but in Southern Oregon, they are 3-season tires.
Viral videos of winter driving fails, like this especially sad Canadian fender bender that’s been making the rounds recently, are funny from a distance – the only real victims are bumpers, and there’s something inherently funny about machines designed to be precise and refined sliding around like beginner ice-skaters.
But icy roads are incredibly dangerous; that same patch of ice that caused slapstick automotive humor in stop and go traffic can cause catastrophic accidents at higher speeds. All-season tires aren’t designed with black ice, or even slush, in mind, and if you make one investment in your car this year, we recommend you invest in winter tires.
Winter tires are built for the bitter cold. Their tread rubber stays flexible at temperatures that make all-season tires become rigid and fragile, and they have deeper tread and special tread patterns designed to flush ice, snow, and water.
If you live somewhere where it rarely snows, or where December means maybe waking up to snow once or twice, your all-season tires might be fine, so long as you replace them when they start to wear down. But if you know that there will be a time of year when snowy, slushy, or icy roads are a daily occurrence, winter tires are a necessary part of staying safe and ringing in the new year without a trip to the collision center.